Monday, December 27, 2010

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas everyone! I had an awesome day! My roommates/companion and I woke up at 6:30 and opened up presents! We went to our Bishop's house to call home and SKYPE with our families (first year missionaries have been able to skype home - it was SO SO SO awesome!). We hung out and played games with his family and mainly just relaxed. That evening we went to a members house and had an excellent dinner and played games, read the nativity story from the Bible, and had a peaceful, fun evening. Thank you for all the cards, letters, and gifts I received! I felt so spoiled this Christmas! It was definitley one of my favorites - getting to serve as a representative of Jesus Christ on the day we celebrate his birth! AND getting to talk to/see my family was uh-freakin-mazing! :) Love you all, I'll have more to say next week.

Love, Elder David Dransfield
Skyping with the family

Monday, December 20, 2010

Have a Holly, Jolly Christmas, It's the Best Time of the Year!!

I love Ohio snow!

My Dear Loyal Fans,

I love you all so much! First I would like to make a shout out to Ashley Holt: Thank you for the amazing Christmas package - it was perfect! I loved the article you sent me by Elder Jeffrey R. Holland called "Maybe Christmas Doesn't Come from a Store" If anyone hasn't read it, you should. It has made me look at Christmas differently now: You're awesome Ash! :) Thank you!

Alright... This past week was freakin' SWEET! We had 11 LMP's and 8 new investigators! (LMP = Lesson taught member present - the best lessons are when you have a member with you!) We took 3 young men in our ward on mini-missions so we could expose them to the world of missionaries (SO awesome!). Best of all, we had our Christmas Mission Conference in the Kirtland Temple!

Kirtland was so so so so so awesome! We woke up around 5:30am so we could be on the road by 6am. We get to the Kirtland Stake Center (a church building) and are having an awesome time talking and catching up with missionaries. Elder Robison and I were in charge of bringing all the necessities for the Sacrament (the treys, the bread, the cups, the cloth, etc.) - this is where it turns into quite the adventure. We grab everything, quickly drive over to the Kirtland Temple, begin to set up the water treys and when we realize we didn't grab the cups! So we drive back to the church building, realize we don't have the keys to the building. We drive back to the Temple, get the keys from the AP's, drive back to the church, can only find half a bag of cups, drive back, President says, 'Do you think that's enough?' We say, 'That's all there is!' President says, 'No there are more under the sink! Go get them!' We drive back, talk to a homeless couple trying to find money for gas, find more cups, drive back (by now Mission Conference is running 30 minutes behind schedule because of us!), and get back only to be told we had enough cups afterall! Sidenote: The parking lot for the Kirtland Temple is a good 150 meters from the Temple, and to save time we'd cut through the grass - which is covered with snow. So after running through all that snow six or so times, I was tired and wet!

Finally our Christmas Mission Conference began. We had some opening hymns, announcements, and then we administered the Sacrament. The Assistant's blessed the bread and water, and us six Zone Leaders that were present passed it. It was a very special, Spiritual experience. The entire Mission Conference was. All the talks that were given were great and the musical number and hymns were so powerful! After President and Sister Sorensen, the Kirtland Stake President, Karl Anderson, and a few others spoke, we split into our Zones and had a testimony meeting. Such great testimonies were shared. That day there was such a great outpouring of the Spirit! It felt like the Spirit was just gushing out of the vents - an amazing experience I will never forget. We closed singing, The Spirit of God, standing in the four corners of the Temple (I assume just as the choir would have back in the day). It. Was. Amazing. So. Powerful. So. Beautiful. That day in Kirtland was a cold, dark, snowy winter day in Ohio. Here in the winter, the sun is rarely shinning. The Kirtland Temple has big windows - their purpose being to light up the temple (back then they didn't exactly have lightbulbs). Despite the dark outside, the Temple was so bright inside - there was a glow about it that was so sacred. The Spirit was so incredibly strong that day. I left the temple edified, understanding my purpose and our Heavenly Father's love more intimately, determined to live up to the potential that the Lord sees in me.

I love my mission. So, so much. It's worth no television for two years. It's worth only four phone calls home for two years. It's worth not being home for Christmas this week. It's worth waking up at 6:30am every morning. I love this work. It is so very important. My purpose as a missionary is to invite others to come unto Christ by helping them receive the restored gospel through faith in Jesus Christ and His Atonement, repentance, baptism, receiving the gift of the Holy Ghost, and enduring to the end. The message we  share enables others to improve the quality of their lives. Our message is centered in Jesus Christ, and is of great value and importance. As missionaries, we are guides so that people can learn the truth of our message for themselves. In no way, shape, or form do we force our knowledge onto others. We invite people to find out for themselves through prayer and reading of the Book of Mormon.

Oh, how I love the Book of Mormon. Elder Jeffrey R. Holland said this in the October 2009 General Conference:

"As one of a thousand elements of my own testimony of the divinity of the Book of Mormon, I submit this as yet one more evidence of its truthfulness. In this their greatest—and last—hour of need, I ask you: would these men blaspheme before God by continuing to fix their lives, their honor, and their own search for eternal salvation on a book (and by implication a church and a ministry) they had fictitiously created out of whole cloth?

Never mind that their wives are about to be widows and their children fatherless. Never mind that their little band of followers will yet be “houseless, friendless and homeless” and that their children will leave footprints of blood across frozen rivers and an untamed prairie floor.9 Never mind that legions will die and other legions live declaring in the four quarters of this earth that they know the Book of Mormon and the Church which espouses it to be true. Disregard all of that, and tell me whether in this hour of death these two men would enter the presence of their Eternal Judge quoting from and finding solace in a book which, if not the very word of God, would brand them as imposters and charlatans until the end of time? They would not do that! They were willing to die rather than deny the divine origin and the eternal truthfulness of the Book of Mormon.

For 179 years this book has been examined and attacked, denied and deconstructed, targeted and torn apart like perhaps no other book in modern religious history—perhaps like no other book in any religious history. And still it stands. Failed theories about its origins have been born and parroted and have died—from Ethan Smith to Solomon Spaulding to deranged paranoid to cunning genius. None of these frankly pathetic answers for this book has ever withstood examination because there is no other answer than the one Joseph gave as its young unlearned translator. In this I stand with my own great-grandfather, who said simply enough, “No wicked man could write such a book as this; and no good man would write it, unless it were true and he were commanded of God to do so.”10"

I've been asked what the daily lifestyle of a Zone Leader is. It's not much different from being a regular missionary.
6:30 - wake up, exercise, shower, eat
8:00 - personal study
9:00 - companion study
10:00 - work
12:00 - lunch
1:00 - work
5:00 - dinner w/ member
6:00 - work
9:00 - head back to the apartment to plan for the next day
10:30 - sleep
and by "work" I mean teach lessons, service, visit members, knock on doors, etc. We mostly teach lessons here because the Lord has blessed us with so many families and individuals to teach. I am so grateful for the trust the Lord has in me to teach these people!

Sundays - we have to report numbers. The District Leaders call us and give us the numbers for that week (investigators to Sacrament meeting, lessons taught to investigators with a member present, other lessons taught, referrals, etc.) for their district. We then call the Assistants to the President and report the numbers to them. They then can see how the Mission is doing.

Tuesdays - we go to District Meetings in other areas, teaching lessons and observing the other missionaries. We then usually will go on exchanges with the missionaries (we pair off differently with another set of missionaries for a day) where we can again observe the missionaries and help them (and ourselves) become stronger servants of the Lord.

Other than that... we're pretty normal. We just take care of our zone - make sure the missionaries are doing their work, are emotionally, physically, and spiritually okay, we figure out transportation for them, plan when our Zone is going to get together, we have to go interview all the investigators getting baptized in our zone, etc.

Interviewing! Oh man! I've only conducted baptismal interviews twice so far, but I love it! It's SO awesome to get to talk one-on-one with someone who has found out for themselves the truthfulness of the gospel of Jesus Christ and have made the necessary changes (repentance) to be worthy to enter into the waters of baptism, being baptized by someone holding the proper Priesthood authority! This one lady last night and I talked for maybe 45 minutes. There are only 6 questions I have to ask but the interview isn't meant to be a yes/no interview. The interview is to make sure that the individual has a testimony; to make sure the individual is ready to be baptized. I asked her if we could start the interview off with a prayer (we pray so much as missionaries, it's wonderful!) and asked if she would mind saying it. She said "No way, I don't pray in public. I'm good praying in my head but not out loud." I agreed that I would pray but she would say our closing prayer. She was reluctant again and I assured her that she has nothing to worry about - I'm no one to feel intimidated by. We had an amazing interview and it came time for the closing prayer. We talked a little bit about prayer: what it is, why we do it, how we do it, and then we bowed our heads. She gave the most beautiful prayer. It was simple, but so sweet and pure. I'm so excited to see this individual make such a great change in her life and am excited to attend her baptism this coming Sunday! (In Fremont - again, one of the perks of being a Zone Leader. I can go to the baptisms in my zone!)

Well... anyone who has read this much is probably tired and their eyes hurt from staring at the computer. So I'll let you all go back to your Christmas celebrations/fun. Amidst the fun, try to remember our Savior and all that He has done for us. In Matthew 1:21, an angel says to Joseph, "And [Mary] shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name JESUS: for he shall save his people from their sins." That small, little baby born in the manger from day one was here to save us all. Don't forget that. I love our Heavenly Father and His only begotten son, Jesus Christ. A mission is just a small way that I can repay them for the countless blessings they have bestowed upon me, though I'll forever be in debt (they keep blessing me! I can't keep up!).

I love you all. I know I say this every week but I really do. I think about you often (yes, you!) and wish you the very best Christmas this year! Send me a letter and let me know how your life is. I love hearing from you and receiving pictures of your life. Thank you for all that you've done for me and the great examples you are!

Love, Elder David Dransfield

Monday, December 6, 2010

ZLs, DLs, ZDMs, APs, P-Day, LMPs, RCLAs, TMFA! (too many fetching acronyms!)

The Perks of Being a Zone Leader
1. You get a car. Oh wait- just kidding. You get a truck!
2. Missionaries are obligated to fear you.
3. You get to witness the progress that occurs in your zone, as well as across the entire mission.
4. You get to pass the sacrament in the Kirtland Temple this December 14th for Mission Conference (how many people can say they've passed the sacrament in the Kirtland Temple??)
5. You get to go on exchanges with all of the missionaries in your zone (work with other missionaries for a day), teaching them and learning from them. You also get to be an example to them.
6. You get to attend Zone Council and make decisions that will change the culture of the mission. Forever. "I got the powa!"
7. You can call whoever you want, whenever you want, for whatever reason you want! (Although that may be a little bit false...don't quote me on this one...)
8. Doctrine and Covenants 95:5 - BOOYA!
9. You become a legend in the mission for being the youngest Zone Leader ever called. How does that Sandlot quote go? Just kidding, I'm no legend. People just know me as "the zone leader whose only been out six weeks" ...great.
10. Number 8 was a joke. Being a Zone Leader (at least for me) is extremely humbling. I feel honored to know that the Lord has such trust in me - an ordinary, simple missionary. I hope I can magnify my calling and make Him proud.

Now some random facts about my missionary life:
- It's snowing now. Last night it finally stuck and there is a thin layer covering Finlay. I guess it's pretty, but it's WAY TOO COLD!!! Thermals = love.
- I saw Andy and Rachel Kirkham (and their kids) on Saturday! Our stake has an annual Christmas celebration where they set up lots of different kinds of nativities and have choirs sing, games for kids, etc. for the whole community and all faiths. We were asked to sing in the choir with our ward and I saw them! It was so exciting to see a familiar face and get to talk to them! They offered to take things to or from California for me since they'll be going back to Roseville for Christmas. Such a nice offer - I'll have to see if I can think of anything! But talking to them (as well as the story below) definitely made my day!
- There is a missionary from my ward in the Roseville mission! She's a sister missionary - Sister Carlson. Funny! 
- We are getting a Christmas tree today! We're borrowing a stand from the Kreegers and probably some decorations from a nonmember family that enjoys having us over (and we enjoy coming over!)
- My mission president, President Sorensen, is a spiritual giant. I have no doubt that he is one of the, if not the, best mission presidents in the world.
- I occasionally have to take a cold shower in the mornings (there are 4 of us and only enough hot water for builds character, right?)
- Findlay has the coolest "downtown" ever! It's clean, old-ish looking, and has normal stores. It's awesome.
- I was fed pizza 8 of my first 10 days out here. It's a mystery why. Members kept having things come up so they'd send us a pizza or drop off a pizza for us to eat. Alas, I did not gain a pound :(
- We have trains behind our apartment. When they blare their horn, they're loud. But it's also pretty cool. We also have a big pond in our backyard. I have pictures and videos that I'll send home.

My Christmas Wish-List:
1. A cheap-ish Garman GPS :)
2. Ties
3. Sweater Vests
4. Scripture markers that don't need to be sharpened (and have more than 1 color)
5. My Priesthood Lineage chart
6. Hand Warmers
7. Candy - any kind!
8. Pictures! I love pictures from back home: family, friends, dog, I don't care!
9. A warm blanket!
10. A beenie that doesn't say "REI" on it
11. A nice, warm, sweatshirt
12. A mini-Preach My Gospel
13. MUSIC! Oh my goodness music. Has to be either a hymn, something sung by the Mormon Tabernacle Choir, a song that they have sung in years past (not all are hymns) aaand yeah. Preferably not Mo-Tab. Christmas music would be nice too.
14. A Gospel Art booklet
15. Gift card to Olive Garden? - I could share with my comp/roommates ;)
16. Sharpies
17. World Peace!
18. Hot chocolate mix!
20. For everyone to have an awesome Christmas :)

I think that's that... of course I don't expect any/all of those things. People have asked, so here is my answer. I don't expect anything though.

A cool story:
Elder Robison, a member (Brother Fagan), and I went to go visit a former investigator on a bitter-cold Saturday afternoon. We walked up the long driveway to the house and knocked on the door - which in the cold is very painful. The door opens. A head of a young, high school-aged girl pops out. We ask for the couple Elder Robison once knew and she explains that they no longer live here. We ask if we can come back at another time (when her mom is home) and she says that's probably fine. We exchange goodbyes, and walk back towards the car. As we are slowly walking down the long driveway, a car pulls up and drives by. The women in the car gives us a half-smile as she passes. We continue to walk to the car when my companion says "No, we need to go back." We agree and walk back towards the house where the women is getting out of her car. We say hello and ask how she is. She replies with a "Not so good." We say, "Not so good? Well we were just talking with your daughter-" she says "Just come inside." Without another word she turns around and walks inside. We follow. (Is this dramatic for ya'all? Because I'm having fun with it!). The daughter is excited to see us again and her and her mom sit down on the couch. We sit on the adjacent couch and listen as they explain to us that their 4-year-old Niece was killed yesterday in a car accident. We start talking about how they can see their niece again. "I know I'll see her again. And I know everything happens a reason" the mother noted. We talk a little about the Plan of Salvation and ask if we can have a prayer. We offer a prayer and by the end the family is in tears. We asked about their religious background and they just stared firing off such amazing topics. They talked about how society is desecrating religion and God. How there can't be so many churches - there can only be one that's true. How the Bible has been changed so many times, how can we trust it completely? To everything they said, we agreed. Now it was their turn to agree on what we talked about - the Restortion. To almost everything we discussed with them they would say, "That makes so much sense." or "I was wondering about that...yeah that has to be right!" The Spirit in that home was so sweet and strong. By the end of our lesson, their entire persona had changed. You could SEE a literal glow in their eyes, a light, that light that is found amongst so many Latter-Day Saints, the Light of Christ. At the beginning of our lesson, there was so much pain, so much sorrow, so much confusion. Near the end of our lesson we asked them how they felt. They stopped and thought about it and said they felt good, at peace, they felt happy once again. The mother said that she knows that we did not come over by coincidence. That this must be a sign. - I know that we did not stop by that house that day at that hour at that very second by coincidence. As missionaries, nothing is coincidence. They invited us to come back and we invited them to come to church which they openly accepted. The mother has two young kids, the teenage girl as an "adopted" daughter, and an finance. The family is so sweet and kind, and I'm excited to teach them more and watch that light in their eyes become permanent.

My Testimony - what I Know to be true:
What a glorious thing this gospel is. How amazing the changes that take place in peoples lives as they come to accept it and know for themselves that the church is true. That the Book of Mormon is the word of God. That Joseph Smith did restore this Gospel to the earth. I know these things to be true! I also know that families can be together forever! I know that our Heavenly Father loves us! God is a loving, just God. He would never leave any of his children in the dark. He is the same yesterday,today, and tomorrow. I know that we have a prophet here on the earth, who leads and guides us to the pathway that will lead us back to God's presence. The plan is simple. The commandments are simple. The Doctrine of Christ is simple: have faith, repent, be baptized, receive the gift of the Holy Ghost, and endure to the end (or in other words, repeat). The Atonement of Jesus Christ - it is everything. Everything, literally EVERYTHING in this gospel directly relates back to that Infinite Atonement. How beautiful. I challenge everyone to study and come to understand the Atonement of Jesus Christ, especially during this Christmas season. It's funny that we call it Christmas, when it really should be said CHRIST-mas.

I love you all. Thank you for all of the support. Letters are (very) slowly being written back, so have patience with me. Now that I'm a Zone Leader I have even less time for myself. Although I guess that's what truly constitutes a good mission: when one can finally lose himself in the work.

Love, Elder David Dransfield

Monday, November 29, 2010

Hello Findlay Ohio, my name is Elder Dransfield, and I'm here to preach the gospel

I am now in Findlay, Ohio (which is so much nicer than Toledo! It's how I imagined Ohio to be, clean, very open, nice people, etc.). I am also now a Zone Leader, which is crazy. I got a call from President Sorensen Tuesday night at 10:28pm asking if I would accept the calling as a Zone Leader. I was shocked, but accepted. As far as anybody knows, no missionary in this mission has gone straight to Zone Leader after 6 weeks (without first being a trainer or district leader or senior companion, etc.). I continually ask myself "why me?" I feel so inadequate, so young (missionary-wise), and somewhat overwhelmed. I have found comfort in a number of things.

First is the wonderful missionaries around me, strengthening me with encouragement. My companion and zone leaders from my last area, President, the Assistants to the President, my companion now, etc. are all such great examples to me as they demonstrate charity - "the pure love of Christ" (Moroni 7:47). Verse 45 reads "And charity suffereth long, and is kind, and envieth not, and is not puffed up, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil, and rejoiceth not in iniquity but rejoiceth in the truth, beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things." Verse 46 - "charity never faileth." I was pretty freaked out at the idea of being a Zone Leader, for I have little to no experience, but their kindness has helped me keep going.

Second would be the scriptures. In The Book of Ether, Moroni says in Ch. 12 verse 6 "I would show unto the world that faith is things which are hoped for and not seen; wherefore, dispute not because ye see not, for ye receive no witness until after the trail of your faith." This has helped me to stop asking "why me?" and kick my butt into gear. Stop thinking about myself, and think about the Lord's work. I will understand after the trail of my faith. Moroni continues in verse 27 "And if men come unto me I will show unto them their weakness. I give unto men weakness that they may be humble; and my grace is sufficient for all men that humble themselves before me, and have faith in me, then will I make weak things become strong unto them."

Third would be the Atonement. In Alma 7:11 it reads "And [Christ] shall go forth, suffering pains and afflictions and temptations of every kind; and this that the word might be fulfilled which saith he will take upon him the pains and the sicknesses of his people." I am by no means saying that what I am going through, this fear and anxiety, is a huge ordeal that I need people to worry about me over. I am going to be okay. But in those times of discouragment and fear, I know that the Lord knows what I am feeling, He knows what I am going through. And what joy it brings to know that I can get through this as I rely on Him. We are not expected to be able to run faster than we run. Heavenly Father loves us and will help us with every step of our lives if we let him.

I have no more time on the computer at the library. Love you all. I know I've been slacking on letters - I will try to do better. Will let you know more about being a ZL in the next email. The church is true! Happy Holidays!

Elder Dransfield

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

I'm being transferred!

So I found out Saturday night that Point Place (where I'm serving right now in Toledo) is being shut down! Which means Elder Perkins and I will be transferred tomorrow (Wednesday) and we'll find out where we are going tomorrow. So until I get my new address, you'll have to send letters to the mission home address.

Elder David Dransfield
Ohio Cleveland Mission
2070 W 117th St
Cleveland, OH 44111

It's been warm here lately which is awesome although today it's really windy! This Saturday is the Ohio State vs. Michigan game... Going to be a crazy Saturday, I'll tell you that.

Don't have much to say so I'll send some pictures.

Miss you. Love you all. God be with you till we meet again.

Elder Dransfield

P.S. I've got the coolest little nephew ever. He's more awesome than all of your nephews (whosever reading this), so accept it, and move on. :)
 Tony Packo's! A member took us to dinner there.  M*A*S*H anyone? I must say, the hot dogs were pretty darn good.

 This is how we eat pineapples that crazy old men give us


Our district (the one who is half in the picture isn't in our district).  It goes:  me, Elder Talbot (ZL), Elder Perkins, Elder Tracy (ZL), Elder Martinez, Elder Hinds (in the back), and Elder Bacerra who is cut in half.
A usual day of service...

I raked most of them...
okay, the truth: the city has this system where people can rake their leaves to the side of the street and big trucks come and suck them up.  Where we are is where they dump them.  But we rake so may leaves, it's probably mostly from us... ;)
Getting leaves out of the gutter for a member

Monday, November 15, 2010

Fun/random pictures

 Goofing off while driving

 with Sean (preparing for a mission, comes out with us a lot)

Their stop lights are on strings!  They are slowly becoming advanced in their technology and putting poles up as you can see.

Week Five in the Ohio

Can you believe I've been in Ohio for a month now?? My 2 month mark is in 7 days or so... Crazy how time is flying! We're expecting snow this week - so it's getting cold. None of this 80F I hear in California... Not fair! I don't really have much to share that is any different from my previous emails, so instead I will share 10 facts concerning Ohio/my mission that none of you probably know...

1. In Ohio (or at least Toledo) the Christmas season starts in mid-November. Apparently they don't believe in Thanksgiving here.
2. In November, every night is a scary movie. Due to daylight savings, it's dark by 6pm. And due to Lake Erie, by 7pm the fog literally rolls in and covers Toledo. They say that once the snow starts falling the fog will go away. I don't know if I'm happy or sad about this. 
3. Ohio and London would get along great - everyone is constantly holding a cigarette.
4. The shower in our apartment... The saying "lefty loosey, righty tighty" doesn't apply for the hot and cold water fossetts. I forget this. Every. Morning.
5. Ohioans seem to think that Little Caesars is the best thing since sliced bread. Oh my heck.
6. There is no such thing as a four-way intersection here. Only five, six, and seven-way intersections.
7. If you live in Ohio, you either cheer for Ohio State or Michigan... They play in two weeks. If I am not careful in who I side with, I may not live to see December.
8. When we are teaching a lesson and the tv that is on behind us suddenly shows a commercial for Harry Potter 7, my neck suddenly gets a kink in it that forces me to watch it......I swear!
9. If you say you're from California, people start laughing and walk away, shaking their heads, mutterings to themselves "He's not gonna to make it [this winter]..."
10. The Book of Mormon changes lives.

I will close with an excerpt from Elder Orson F. Whitney (1855-1931) of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, found in Spencer W. Kimball's "Faith Precedes the Miracle":
No pain that we suffer, no trial that we experience is wasted. It ministers to our education, to the development of such qualities as patience, faith, fortitude, and humility. All that we suffer and all that we endure, especially when we endure it patiently, builds up our characters, purifies our hearts, expands our souls, and makes us more tender and charitable, more worthy to be called the children of God...and it is through sorrow and suffering, toil and tribulation, that we gain the education that we come here to acquire and which will make us more like our Father and Mother in heaven.

I love and miss you all. I think about you all often and enjoy the many letters I have been receiving. I will try my best to write you back, but have patience - I'm busy! I love this gospel. I am so grateful for the Savior's infinite Atonement. The Book of Mormon is a wonderful book and we are so blessed to live in this last dispensation where so many truths and keys have been restored to the earth! God lives! Jesus is the Christ! "Do ye not suppose that I know of these things myself? Behold, I testify unto you that I do know that these things whereof I have spoken are true. And how do ye suppose that I know of their surety? Behold, I say unto you they are made known unto me by the Holy Spirit of God. Behold, I have fasted and prayed many days that I might know these things of myself. And now I do know of myself that they are true..." (Alma 5:45-46).

Love, Elder David Dransfield

Monday, November 8, 2010

New pictures

After doing service at a greenhouse garden place


This one's for Mom!

Another week in Ohio

Hey Everyone!

I'll try to keep this short because I've been writing a ton in the past emails!

The mission is going well. We have been tracting a lot and have found a few interested people. We have been working with less-active members and two have been coming back to church and are really enjoying being back. It's amazing to see the change that you see in their lives and see how much happier and brighter they look.

My companion had some leadership training meetings in Cleveland from Tuesday to Wednesday so I was paired up with two other missionaries for the two days. They came to our area (Point Place) and so I had to step up and not be the junior missionary anymore. It was a good experience to have to take charge and make the "executive" decisions - if that makes sense.

I had my first Hawaiian Haystack last night! I finally feel like a real Mormon! (haha...that was a joke). It was good though! An easy dinner to feed a lot of people...

This past week we had one or two pretty cold days. I wore my biggest/warmest coat and was just fine, so hopefully I wont freeze to death this winter! They say that January and February are the coldest months... I've also had to start using my piano "skills" at church meetings because not many people out here play the piano. I guess those 7 years of lessons are paying off... Although I'm so rusty! I'm glad I can help out in that way though.

Well, that's pretty much it. We received a referral for a woman who wanted to receive a free Bible. We brought it over to her and she was also interested in the Book of Mormon so we talked to her about it and gave her one. She says she's really interested. Maybe something will come out of it.

I love this gospel. It has blessed my life so much as it gives so much direction and peace in ones life. As we help those less-actives regain that desire to come back to church and then see the light in their eyes become reignited, I feel like I am finally doing something out here. I have such a great testimony of the Book of Mormon. I have never loved this book so much and the more I study it the more I understand it and learn from it. I recently came across a cool verse in the Doctrine and Covenants. Section 33 verse 8: "Open your mouths and they shall be filled, and you shall become even as Nephi of old, who journeyed from Jerusalem in the wilderness." - Section 33 is all about missionary work, and I find that as I follow this cousel and teach by the Spirit, what comes out of my mouth is exactly what investigators or less-actives need to here. I told a story to a less-active concerning tithing, and yesterday she said that the story pops into her head every night. At the time I didn't know why I felt like sharing that story with her, but now I understand.

I love and miss you all. I think about you all often. Thank you for your letters! I am trying my best to stay on top of those.

Elder Dransfield

Monday, November 1, 2010

First week in Ohio

                                             The Kirkland Temple
                                   President and Sister Sorensen (front left) and new missionaries
                                                      The fall colors are spectacular!
                                          Elder Dransfield and Elder Perkins

                                           Ottowa River

MTC Pictures

                                            Elder Dransfield and Elder Lipps- both from Roseville, CA
                                                David's Zone

                                           We're going to the Ohio!
                                            Elder Dransfield and Elder Coffin (going to Hawaii)
                                            The Provo Temple

Tornados, gunshots, and a 100-year old stripper

I hope whoever reads these weekly blog updates isn't getting tired of what I write - I try not to sound too repetitive! This week was pretty similar to the past 2... lots of knocking on doors, trying to find people who want to hear our message.

On Tuesday we had a tornado watch! We got a call from our "missionary mom" (a lady in our ward who has just always been like a mom to the missionaries in Point Place) telling us that a big storm was on it's way to Toledo with potential tornadoes, so she told us to stay in our apartment that morning. So my companion and I went into our car and listened to the radio to know what was going on. (Don't worry, we were not in our cars when the storm hit was a good 45 minutes away while we listened). When the winds and rain hit Toledo, is was just that - wind and rain. No tornadoes. I was so excited to be sucked into the Tornado and take wicked awesome pictures and then end up somewhere and say "I don't think we're in Ohio anymore Totto!" (that was a joke). Later that day we went and talked to a less active family and in it is a 10 year old boy who wants to be baptized, so we'll be teaching him this week. Later that day we visited with a man in our ward and his son walked in, getting ready for work, and chatted with us for a few minutes. He said that he would like to be taught the missionary lessons - sweet!

On Wednesday night our ward had it's Trunk or Treat! It was much smaller than what I'm used to from back home, but it was fun. They had a chili cookoff and asked us 4 missionaries to judge them. There were 11 entries and they gave each of us 11 little bowls (about the size of a 1/3rds measuring cup) of each chili. We had to taste them, then rate them in different categories (best used of beans, spicy, family friendly, best overall, etc.). After eating so much chili, my stomach was not happy. BUT it was fun! We then sat with a member and handed out candy outside.

Thursday we were asked to go to a hospital and give a blessing. That's my second since I've been out. Third if you count the MTC. We tracted a lot that day. Later that night as we were sitting in our apartment we heard a series of gun shots. (that's the end of that story..)

On Sunday we went to the 1st counselors house for the evening (so we weren't out and about while little kids were trick or treating) and hung out with them. We sat outside around a fire pit and would chat with people as they'd walk by. Somebody asked if we were supposed to be Latter-day Saints (haha...our costumes were pretty convincing I guess?). There was this lady who is probably in her 30s but looks 100 because she smokes who used to be a stripper who walked by a few times - she still dressed like a stripper, it was funny/disgusting.

So that's pretty much my week... Nothing too exciting to report.
The weather is getting colder and colder. This morning we woke up to find frost all over the car - the first frost of the fall/winter!
There are leaves EVERYWHERE! People rake their leaves and put them on the side of the road for the city to come pick up - the piles are HUGE! I wonder how they collect them all...

Thank you for all your letters! I think I have written everyone back so far... I have 5 or 6 of you who I will try to write today. Know that I DO read your letters and I will try my best to write you back eventually. But I love hearing about every one's lives!

Well that's it... Today for P-Day we're going bowling with a couple other missionaries. It's only about $10 for 2 games and shoes here! CRAZY!!! Love and miss you all. This gospel is perfect, this I know as I see the drastic differences in the lives of members and nonmembers. I know Joseph Smith is a prophet of this last dispensation and that he translated those ancient scriptures that are now the Book of Mormon. What a marvelous book; "Another Testament of Jesus Christ." I know that President Thomas S. Monson is a prophet. "Surely the Lord God will do nothing, but he revealeth his secret unto his servants the prophets" (Amos 3:7). I know that President Monson receives revelation and guidance to help lead us, God's children, to the gates of eternal life. This week I'm was reading in The Book of Ether about the Brother of Jared and his people traveling to the promised land. Chapter 6:

8. And it came to pass that the wind did never cease to blow towards the promised land while they were upon the waters; and thus they were driven forth before the wind.
9. And they did sing praises unto the Lord; yea, the brother of Jared did sing praises unto the Lord, and he did thank and praise the Lord all the day long; and when the night came, they did not cease to praise the Lord.
10. And thus they were driven forth; and no monster of the sea could break them, neither whale that could mar them; and they did have light continually, whether it was above the water or under the water.

Our promised land is the Celestial Kingdom. Heavenly Father will and has already provided us with help in getting there. Like the winds blowing the Jaredite barges the entire journey, we can be guided our entire journey as we are obedient and righteous. We must remember to praise the Lord "all the day long" and "not cease to praise the Lord." I'm not going to lie, missionary work is hard. But even in the hardest of times, there is so much to be grateful for. We must never forget how much we are blessed. As we are obedient and have the constant companionship of the Holy Ghost, "no monster of the sea" can bring us down and we will "have light continually." Obedience is the key to happiness. If we are obedient, we will be blessed.

Monday, October 25, 2010

They call me Greenie

Hey Everyone,

Nothing really new to report in Ohio. I'll answer some of the questions you guys have asked me...

My apartment is nowhere as nice as the one I had in Provo... Someone could easily break in if they wanted, the furniture has to be covered with a blanket so we don't catch the diseases that are infested in the cushions, our bathroom sink has hardly any water pressure and only gets cold water (the shower is good though) (good-ish), the lighting isn't very great... BUT we have a washer and dryer, a dishwasher, a nice big(ish) refrigerator, the heater works very well, and the beds are comfy enough. So it's a good apartment. It's just me and my companion in our apartment. Every companionship has their own apartment.

We rarely have to cook because the members are pretty good at feeding us. What do they feed us? Hmm... Pretty much everything. I haven't had any pulled-pork sandwiches yet. Yesterday for lunch we had turkey, stuffing, baked potato and for dinner spaghetti and chicken. My first meal was nasty meatloaf, I've had lasagna, breakfast for dinner, pizza, get taken to eat out 3 or 4 times... So pretty much what you'd find back home.

Our ward is having a trunk-or-treat on Wednesday and they've asked us missionaries (There are 4 of us) to be the chili cook off judges. Ha.

What did I do this past week.... Visited a lot of non-members, knocked on a lot of doors - found a couple future potentials (but not interested at the moment), gave a talk in church yesterday, aaand yeah. Our talks went very well yesterday. They asked us 4 missionaries in the ward to speak about member referrals, teaching with the Spirit, how to find people, and how to improve your teaching. I talked about how to improve your teaching. I think I talked a little bit too fast, but otherwise it went awesome. We got tons of compliments afterwards. Hopefully now the ward will be better about member referrals (finding people we can teaching)!

I can't believe I forgot my camera AGAIN! I know you all probably hate me right now! Maybe I can get back to the library later today and send some. But don't count on it... 

I was told yesterday that if I don't tell people I've only been out a week and a half that nobody would be able to tell. So that's cool. I'm already a pro missionary ;) 

This week we'll be riding bikes a lot because the weather  supposed to be nice. We have a car and have been using it pretty much all the time since I've been here - our area is pretty big and some places are unsafe to ride in. But we're cutting it close with our miles (we get 950 miles per month or something) so we're going to bike it up. My companion drives; my job is to answer calls while in the car and back him up out of parking spots (I guess a lot of accidents come from backing up). Before new missionaries can be allowed to drive, we have to successfully teach all 5 lessons to our companion, do a few reading assignments, fill out some paperwork, etc. And I think you can't drive your first 6 weeks (first transfer) - that is unless your companion has his driving privileges taken away. They have these things called Tiwi's in the cars. They're little boxes that monitor your driving. If you're speeding, a voice says "Speeding Violation" and you have 10 seconds to slow down. You can also get in trouble for reckless driving (so we have to be careful of potholes), vertical violation (all 4 wheels are off the ground), not buckling your seat belt... So we're pretty monitored when driving. And if you get too many violations your driving privilege is taken away. Oh! And if we get a ticket for any reason, my companion and I have to split the cost.

Everything is pretty much the same. Yesterday we got a pretty cool thunder/lightening storm. The thunder was loud and it looked like it was raining leaves! (when the rain pounded on the trees...). Leaves are EVERYWHERE here. In some yards you can't see any grass, just leaves. Sacramento is not the city of trees...

Thank you everyone for the letters and packages. Everyone who has written me, I've written you back. So if you didn't get mail back, then you gave me a wrong address. Hope everyone is doing well. Know that I am doing great and am in the Lord's hands. 

The hardships that come with this mission strengthens my testimony everyday. There is opposition in all things, and missionary work isn't supposed to be easy. It's amazing the difference I can see in the lives of members/inactives/nonmembers. There's almost a physical difference, like a light that is present or missing. I guess that's the "glow" you hear people talk about. As I read and study the Book of Mormon more, my knowledge and understanding of Christ grows so much. The only way we can know if the Book of Mormon is true is if we read, ponder, and pray about it. If you do this, you will receive an answer. And if the Book of Mormon is true, that means that Joseph Smith was a prophet of God and everything else in this gospel falls into place. The concept of prayer is amazing and I find myself relying on it more and more as the days go on. I know that when we pray, our Heavenly Father listens. Although it's a hard mission, I wouldn't want to be anywhere else. I can't wait to find those elect persons who are ready to hear our message and can put themselves on the path towards eternal life.

Love and miss you all,
Elder David Dransfield

Monday, October 18, 2010

Pictures of David going to the MTC 9-22-10

It hailed the morning David went to the MTC

In front of the LDS Provo Temple

Ready to go to the MTC

Arriving at the MTC

My new friends at the MTC

It hailed the morning David was reporting at the MTC... a preview of Ohio weather!

Arriving in SLC 9-21-10

I'm in Ohio!

Hey everyone,

I'm in Ohio! Finally! It's awesome! I have lots to write about, but first here's my new address:

Elder David R. Dransfield
1779 Tremainsville Apt. 109
Toledo, Ohio 43613

On Tuesday we got to the airport at around 5:30-6ish and our flight to Detroit was supposed to leave at 7-something. When we were walking towards the Delta check-in, an elder and sister missionary also going to the Cleveland mission told us that Elder Dransfield needed to come with them - the three of us didn't have plane tickets. For some reason our information never processed and us three (plus two other sisters, and two other elders) didn't have a way of getting to Ohio. So Delta sent us to American Airlines who sent us back to Delta who sent us to Continental (meanwhile we're on the phone with Salt Lake the whole time trying to figure everything out). Slowly but surely we all get flights (on different airlines) and me, an elder, and a sister are left to catch a flight that leaves in 20 minutes. So we asked everyone in security if we could cut and litterally ran across the airport just barely making our flight to Denver. From Denver we flew to Cleveland where President and Sister Sorensen were waiting to pick us up. Of us 12 elders and 3 sisters, we were on 4 different flights to Cleveland, so we were all coming in at different times - it was a nightmare. But we made it.

We were taken to the mission home and were given the rundown of what to expect, the rules, who to talk to for different things.. We were interviewed, talked about our medical info, did some roleplaying, testimony meeting, went to bed. Oh, and an awesome dinner. After 3 weeks in the MTC, the dinner and beds and shower and such were heavenly. The next morning we got our info about our trainer and area and then headed to Kirtland. Kirtland was very cool (I was going to bombbard you with pictures......but....I forgot the cord for my camera :/ sorry. Next week!). We were taken through the N.K. Whitney store/School of prophets and watched a film about Kirtland - very cool. After that we were paired up with our new companions! My companion is Elder Perkins, he's been out for 7 1/2 months, from Kanab, Utah. We are serving in Point Place - it's a big area, in the very top, very left part of the mission. Downtown Toledo is pretty ghetto/sketchy/scary/be-careful-or-you'll-get-jumped. It's awesome!

This next paragraph is going to be all about Elder Perkins because he's butt-hurt that all I wrote is where he's from. Elder Perkins... where do I start? He's been an awesome trainer/companion. The mission is pretty hard ( sucks) and so he makes it fun. He's teaching me pretty much everything I need to know and we get along great. So I'm lucky to have a normal/cool companion. Ha. He's also the best looking elder out here - or so he says.... <-- we have a good time/laugh all the time. BUT we work hard too! It's pretty easy to get discouraged out here so Perkins has been really good to me as I transition into this new setting.

We haven't taught anyone yet. We go to a lot of non-active members because more than half the ward is inactive. We tract a lot (knocking on doors) but always get the same response. It's nice when people will be nice to us and not slam the door in our face or yell at us (those of you who are not LDS and reading this, be nice to the missionaries. Please and thank you). We talked to a man yesterday who was interested in hearing about Jesus, so we're going back tonight to teach him. Hopefully it will go well! The ward here is awesome! Everyone is so nice and fun and church is very different - the same structure, but a lot less....professional I guess you could say? It's awesome. And small! Their chapel HARDLY gets filled. We do get fed almost every day, so they're good about that. Everyone laughs when I say I'm from California because I'm going to die this winter.

Ohio is nothing like I expected. The weather has been good though is quickly cooling off. The trees have pretty much all already undergone that change, but as we drove away from Kirtland there were a few areas off the highway that looked like an ocean of trees and colors - it was way cool. Now all the trees are dumping their leaves so there are piles of leaves on literally every street. This part of the US is like a different world than California. I've only really lived/been in Ca and Utah so it's definitely very different from what I'm used to. The people here don't seem as happy as back west... Everyone just looks depressed (by the time I'm through here, they'll all be filled with joy!). The sky here always has awesome clouds in it, that's cool. I don't really know what else to talk about. Like I wrote about above, there are some parts of Toledo that we don't go through (especially at night) because it's dangerous. There are gangs here and some areas just aren't safe. But we've been good so far, I'm not scared that anything is going to happen.

Life is good though. Hard, but good. I'll probably be in Point Place for a while, so I'll get to know the members/the area pretty well. My companion and I are both dreading the winter here; pray for us. I wrote down and put on my wall this scripture: Alma 26:27 "Now when our hearts were depressed, and we were about to turn back, behold, the Lord comforted us, and said: Go amongst they brethren, the [Ohians], and bear with patience thine afflictions, and I will give unto you success." Obviously I added "Ohians," and I wouldn't say I'm depressed, but it definitely isn't as easy out here as the MTC made it out to be. It's tough. And after so many doors slammed in your face, all you want to do is go back to your apartment and sit there. But I know I'm out here for a reason, and I wont let the hardships bring me down.

In our mission, only 0.2 or 2 (can't remember) precent of people are LDS. It amazes me to see the difference between those with and without the gospel. The brightness about the countenance. The happiness and true joy they express and have in their lives. We went and talked to a less-active woman yesterday (the less-actives love when we visit by the way) and she admitted that she's been trying to forget about the church, about us missionaries, because it's not easy to be Mormon, but she can't get the church or the Book of Mormon or us out of her head. She can't deny or put away the truths she has learned. I thought it was interesting. I know that the gospel has brought much joy and enlightment into my life. I am so happy to be here in Ohio, to be teaching of Jesus Christ's restored gospel. I know that the Book of Mormon was translated by Joseph Smith and was written for our dispensation. Reading it really does bring one closer to Jesus Christ (The Book of Mormon: Another Testament of Jesus Christ). I love this mission, I love my companion, and I am slowly coming to love the people here. We have done a lot of service, and I am slowly learning that service is the most effective way to learn to love others. I love and miss you all. In 4 days I will have been out for a month! Which means in just 23 months you'll all get to see my beautiful face again ;)

I hope all is well for everyone. OH! I might come back with an Ohio "accent" - that being that I don't speak proper english. Ha! I hope I come back sounding like a hick... It's my new goal. Good luck with "cold" weather in California/Utah/Wherever you are.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Officially in Ohio

David finally arrived in Cleveland today after 3 weeks in the MTC.

Hello Ohio!

Friday, October 8, 2010

Last letter from the MTC - sent 10/8/10

In 4 days I'll be on my way to Ohio! Crazy how fast it's gone by. I'll try my hardest to remember what has happened this week - it's gone by SO fast.

Saturday/Sunday - Conference. Conference was AWESOME!! And it was cool to watch it with a gym full of missionaries. Conference was possibly my favorite. Elder Scott also gave a really good talk (I know he's dads favorite!)
Monday/Tuesday - the district above us (they got here the Wednesday before us) left. It was sad. One of the missionaries was Elder Clark - he went to high school with Sean Horrocks, played tennis with him or something (sorry if I spelled that wrong, I'm too tired to care), and left for Mississippi.
Wednesday - the new batch of Elders came in. One of them was Matthew Kirkham's roommates at BYU! (Speaking of Matthew, congrats on your mission call! He's headed to Spain, very cool) The new district are going to Florida and New Jersey. I'm still jealous of the Hawaii Elders
Thursday - my companion and I went to a hospital to get his foot looked at. 8 years or so ago he had foot surgery and has been having some pretty bad pains there recently. They took xrays, found out that his surgery was not done correctly, he needs to get it fixed. Recovery would take 6-8 weeks.
Today - he called home, him and his parents decided they would fix it after his mission.

I'm very very very very tired. Not so much physically and spiritually. Went to the temple today - awesome, as always. I've seen a LOT of friends from BYU - on Wednesday Rufus came in. It's nice to see familiar faces. What else could I write about... Our zone is really awesome. My district and the district below us (going to long beach and hawaii) are way close and have a ton of fun together. I'm gonna miss these guys. Half of our district leaves for Denver, Colorado on Monday, so we'll have a whole day without them. It will be wayyy weird. Even though we've only been here for 2 1/2 weeks, it feels like it's been months. So we're all like brothers. BUT we're all SOOO excited to get to Ohio. The MTC is great and I've learned and grown SO much, but I'm ready for the real world. Ready to meet and talk to real investigators.

Mom - I did forget to mention the cookies you guys sent me. Thank you, they were/are (there are still a few more) delicious. And thank you Sister Scott/the Scotts for those amazing cinnamon rolls. They. Are. The. Best. Thing. We've (yes, I share). Eaten. In. Two. Weeks. Thank you. As for the food here, it's still pretty awful, but bearable. I've learned what to trust and not trust. HA! Funny story - the orange juice. We've heard rumors how it's dangerous. Three of us decided to test this out. We drank 5 glasses of orange juice. Turns out they put laxatives in the orange juice. I'll stick with water/raspberry lemonade.

I don't think I'm going to write letters today. I'm just too beat. But know that I read and enjoy every letter. A lot. They make my day, so keep on writing them! IF YOU WRITE ME ON DEAR ELDER (Bailey) MAKE SURE YOU WRITE YOUR ENTIRE ADDRESS OR I WILL NOT BE ABLE TO WRITE YOU BACK! I would not write me from DearElder after Sunday/Monday morning because they usually take half a day/a day until I get them, and I leave EARLY Tuesday morning. So I will not receive the dearelders.

Alright. I wont email again for 2 mondays (monday will be my p-day in Ohio). But I'm sure my next email will be awesome as I will be in Ohio! :)

I end this with my testimony. There is nowhere I'd rather be right now than here, serving the Lord. The experiences I have had here have been amazing, and just strengthen my testimony and knowledge of the truthfullness of this gospel. Our Heavenly Father loves all of us, more than we can imagine. Pray to him often. He'll always listen. I know that Joseph Smith saw God the Father and His Son, Jesus Christ, and is a prophet of this last dispensation. And the Book of Mormon - the keystone to this relgion - is the most true book on this earth. Moroni promises at the end that all those who read it, and pray to know if it's true with pure intent, will receive an answer. I challenge all of you who haven't prayed to know of this truthfulless to do so. I have. I have received my answer. I know this church is true. I love and miss you all. God bless.

Elder David Dransfield